One to Watch :: Hi & Saberhägen
Now we’re not about to start drinking these boys’ bathwater but we think they’re pretty good; pretty damned good.
Pete and Kami aka Hi & Saberhägen are in fact not Panorama Bar’s contract cleaning service of choice, but two enviably amusing, eminently likeable, swiftly soaring doyens of the Scottish house scene.
Keen to chart their own course, they’ve developed some friends in pretty high places with releases from the likes of Anthony Naples on his mystically curated label Proibito, Yumé Records, and, numerous plays from their comrade Joy Orbison as well heavy hitters Optimo and DJ Sprinkles. Actively encouraged to “put stuff out on other labels,” they speak of taking influence from a broad range of music and this has ensured the release of their 4 EPs on 4 different labels. Nevertheless, it was Huntleys + Palmers head honcho Andy Thompson that “gave them their first chance” with a debut release in 2015, as well as delivering their latest exceedingly listenable offering (in late January) on his new sub-label Belters.
What’s clear is that these two know what they like and they know how to have fun. Their output comfortably blurs the lines between fizzing club stompers, cranking things up to 11 at their Edinburgh residencies – and at the ensuing afters, providing the soundtrack that makes you want to melt into the sofa. Not constrained by what they should/shouldn’t be doing, this infectious attitude pervades their productions and is laid-bare throughout the sumptuous mix they’ve generously prepared for us. Even with several more releases on the way for 2017, in their own words, “we’re just getting started to be quite honest.”
A few highlights from our incredibly enjoyable chat:
First things first, you’ve been subjected to the greatest RA comment to have graced the inter-web (“Saberhagen made love to my sister in High School, glad to see he’s doing well”). How did this make you feel?
Pete: Strong, powerful and sexy. Lt Delay has been a great supporter since we began. An interesting character to say the least.
Sneaky Pete’s or Subby?
Pete: That’s a dangerous question… Both very different clubs. Nothing quite like rushin on the stairs down to Sub Club, hearing the bass pounding away… Nothing quite like getting your tap aff on the stage in Sneaky’s.
Kami: They’re both definitive clubs for each city, Subby is an institution and stands up to its reputation as one of the best clubs in Europe, Sneaks is still a ways away from reaching that stature but it’s also one of the only places you'll see some class DJ’s/Artists booked in such an intimate space and provides an outlet for the many young creatives bubbling under Edinburgh’s music scene.
Reading about the Glasgow lads, Denis Sulta/Jasper James etc., they write home about how great it’s been to have a mentoring figure, Jackmaster pops up a lot. Have you boys experienced something similar or are you strictly lone-wolves?
Pete: Good question! Well, funnily enough our first jams together were when we lived in Glasgow. After a few months we’d gotten this shitey wee flat in a fairly baron area and set up a mini studio. It basically meant all there was to do was make music and in a way, our time there was probably our most prolific as there was no distractions and fuck all else to do during the week. But, throughout that time, I learned a lot from Kami - in terms of making music, and finding loads of new music to listen to. I’d like to think he learned a thing or two from me too. In short, we’ve never really had a mentor no, but I’d be an idiot not to think how much all our friends, those who make music and otherwise have passed onto us.
Kami: Yeah that flat was brutal but kinda good for productivity, it was on the subway line but still a pain to do anything past midnight. I guess we were lone wolves in the club scenes which is kinda how we found each other.
Although firm Scotsmen, your name sounds like its straight out of Angela Merkel’s phonebook – are you firmly rooted in Edinburgh for now or is a continental, risking cliché, Berlin move appealing?
Pete: I’m actually a firm Irishman (Dirty Derry born and raised!), having moved to Scotland 8 years ago. We just moved back to Edinburgh about a year ago so may be here for a while yet, but who knows, maybe another move is on the cards :) I love this place though.
Your first release was only in 2015 and things are starting to snowball, was there ever any real jackpot moment when it became clear this could be a career and not just a wee laugh on a Friday night?
Pete: Ammm not really. I mean, both of us have played/made music most of our lives so it has just always been the case where that’s what we do - regardless of whether we can make a living off it or not. When Joy O played 2 of our tracks in his BIS mix, we were obviously like fuckin yass, because at that point nobody had heard anything we’d done and it was Joy O! But, I’m personally really glad we’ve been plodding along at our own pace. I’d much rather build toward something with longevity than release a big record, get shoehorned into a load of festival bills, get wrecked every weekend for a couple of years, forget how to make music and eventually fall off the radar. Or maybe, once again I’m being heavy naive!
How did you meet and start producing together in the first place?
Pete: I actually don’t remember exactly, but I’m sure it was a steamin conversation outside Cab Vol in Edinburgh, that went something along the lines of ‘I’m moving to Glasgow too man, I’ve no pals there, let’s make a beat’.
Kami: Yeah I set up all my gear from some improve sets I was doing at the time, Pete came over and started clanging on keys and pads while I was chopping the audio. Two tracks from that first session ended up on our debut H+P release.
Your brand of house has been termed “left of centre,” “weird,” “possessing a hardy exterior but a melodious underbelly.” How would you describe your sound/ do you even want to?
Pete: Yea, you can pretty much always end up sounding like a right wanky bastard when trying to describe your music eh? I just like to think of it this way - we’re both obviously taking a big influence from house/club music - but as we both listen to a lot of different music and have been involved in things like hardcore bands/math rock bands/improv ensembles/orchestras etc - we try to apply everything we’ve learned from that to a traditional-ish house template. We’re basically just trying to make something where hopefully you can hear a bit of both of our personalities.
A definite aspect of your work that I love, and have come to expect, is you never know if a track might suddenly surge in the polar opposite direction. 'Qyzyland' is a perfect example – it starts of as a lurching bass laden bomb and develops into a melodic piano number that’s even put a smile on my mum’s face – is that unpredictability something you go in hard for?
Pete: Bless your Mum! <3 Ermm, its maybe not something we immediately aim for, but maybe we’ll have a little section of a track made, then in that process find a sample that might be in a completely different vein. Kami especially is great at getting something to fit - he can really spend hours tweaking at something that initially may have sounded absolutely guff, but, through various processes will manage to get it sounding like a natural part of the track (‘Qyzyland’ being a prime example of this).
Kami: Thanks bae :^) I’m quite into the unpredictability, although sometimes it means the tracks are not very DJ friendly. Dance floors are not our main concern in the writing process but it’s always something we both keep in mind.
4-tracks that you’d light the candles and pour into your musical bath this evening?
Can you give us a heads up about this delicious mix you have prepared for us? Did you just roll out of bed and go with it or is it geared towards the deeper/lighter side of things?
Kami: This one is pretty much an idea of stuff we’re playing out at the moment. With residencies in Scotland, there’s always early curfews so we tend to keep our sets energetic and switch genres to keep crowds on their toes. The opener is from an EP Pete’s been working on using lo fi practice keyboards with no quantised measures and the closer is a track from our good mate Joshua Sabin’s debut "Terminus Drift" on Subtext.
Where and with whom should we listen to it?
Kami: Before a night out with some finest tonic or back at a someone’s flat after the club's shut, still buzzin like a broken fridge.